Generalized Anxiety Disorder Can Impact Relationships

In what probably doesn't come as a surprise to many people, a research study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology reports that the constant worrying experienced by people who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) puts their social relationships at risk.

By looking at people in therapy for GAD, the researchers found that people with the disorder interact with others in one of four distinct styles: intrusive, cold, nonassertive, and exploitative. Depending on the person's style, their worries about family and friends manifest themselves in different ways, from over-nurturing to criticizing to detachment. Lead author Amy Przeworski explains, "The worry may be similar, but the impact of the worry on their interpersonal relationships would be extremely different. This suggests that interpersonal problems and worry may be intertwined."

The worry experienced by people with GAD can be so severe and pervasive that it is hardly surprising that it affects people's social relationships. This study is useful, however, in that it points out certain negative coping methods commonly used by GAD sufferers, and suggests that interpersonal problems should be a target of therapy for GAD. The authors recommend an integrated approach to GAD treatment, combining therapies for worrying and relationship issues.

Photo: Karen Warfel from Pixabay

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